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With just 20 days left until the much anticipated StarCraft 2 gold launch and a massive promotion campaign underway, Blizzard faces a mounting barrage of concerns over Battle.net 2.0’s social and regional features. However, in a fashion not entirely typical of a software development company, Blizzard has responded firmly and directly to these concerns, making official statements about the future features of the platform.

Arguably the biggest concern, seen on the Battle.net forums on a day-to-day basis, was the lack of chat channels during the beta and Blizzard’s stance on the issue throughout StarCraft 2’s development. Kapeselus of Blizzard’s Europe RTS community team has recently addressed the issue, and much to the community’s delight, we should be expecting chat channels patched soon after StarCraft 2’s release on July 27.

There will definitely be “chat channels” coming in one of the patches after the release. The system will be based around groups, where you will be able to join public channels that are based around your interests, which can be virtually anything. Also the system will include private chat channels (in plans for release in the first few months after the release), where you will be able to meet with your friends.

Classic Chat Interface

Unique identifiers will be making a return. However, players will no longer be able to select their own .XXXXX suffix – those will be auto-generated by Battle.net upon account creation, making impersonation quite stupid and expensive.

As for identifiers they are returning for the second phase of the beta. The previous system did not work as intended to some degree and based on feedback received the developers decided to implement a variation of this, which is going to attach character codes. These will be three digit numbers added to your nickname and they will be seen in the UI screens. Thanks to this you will be able to add friends manually, just like previously with identifiers. On top of that you can still add friends using all other methods (using the score screen or RealID).

The number will be automatically generated. Please keep in mind that you won’t be able to see this code everywhere, but only on certain screens. (i.e. it won’t get in the way and it won’t ruin the “look” of your nickname, don’t worry! )

The explanations posted were very encompassing and sincere, clarifying the reasons behind Battle.net 2.0’s feature selection. Even gamers who grew up using chat channels could see how modern social-networking setups differ from the long-existing chat-channel based Battle.net interaction and how they may appeal more to mainstream gamers, less accustomed to arranging games and tournaments using IRC and IM chats.

I agree that Facebook integration was something that some players found controversial, but at the same time I disagree that this is something buyers are not looking for.

Even _if_ majority of people don’t have friends to add there are still some who will welcome an opportunity to use this (even here or on teamliquid of all the places :)). I don’t think that looking only on one side of the issue is the right approach, especially when you can make a case that for example majority of buyers don’t care about chat channels.

You just don’t have the data and there are definitely a lot of people out there who just want to log in and play (I know a few myself). Does this mean that implementing chat channels is a mistake, as there are more pressing features that need to be there? Certainly not and I am sure you will agree with me. I am also not comparing the magnitude of both these features, just a hypothetical situation, especially given Facebook integration definitely didn’t take priority over chat channels and wasn’t hard to implement, as it is a very simple option.

The community’s second-biggest concern, a social, eSports and pricing issue all in one, is the localization of StarCraft 2 accounts and built-in measures for preventing cross-regional play, as was disclosed in the Russian StarCraft 2 pricing announcement.

….the game will be fully localized and playable only on Russian Battle.net servers, and players will be required to pay an additional fee to play on international European servers.

Kapeselus addressed the issue again, stating Blizzard’s intention to patch additional features and infrastructure improvements in after StarCraft 2’s official release.

We are aware of players’ concerns about the cross-region play and they are being addressed. As stated previously out long term plan with Battle.net is to allow players to play together. This unfortunately cannot be achieved at this point, due to various challenges and issues connected to it, making it more difficult to implement than in the past.

On the other hand we are looking into solutions which will allow interested players to get access to different regions without buying another full copy of the game. There will be support for this on the Account Management site in the first few months after the release.

During the beta, it was not uncommon for tournament participants to use alternative accounts, burrowed from friends, in order to compete against opponents from across the sea. Blizzard, obviously acknowledging the fact that such a common situation must not force players into an awkward workaround, has set a goal for enabling cross-region play.

We are looking into ways of letting you switch between servers, no matter whether you buy a European or American version of the game. As for the second question you won’t be able to play in the same game using different servers, as we have never had global servers for our games. It is our goal for the future, but won’t be there for release.

Benzen of Blizzard’s forum community team posted a lengthy reply to pricing concerns, which were mounting as Blizzard revealed its multiple region and subscription based pricing plans for Russia and Brazil.

How is the cost of the limited version reasoned? The money has to be used to support Brazilian datacenters?
One of the main goals was to make our game accessible to a wide array of players (novice to veterans), this also applies to pricing options that we have.

As a scenario, if you know you’re going to play StarCraft II and are expecting to play for a while, you have the option to purchase and download the unlimited version online, directly from us. However, if you’re a new player or, if you’re unsure about how long you’re going to play for, you also have the option to purchase the limited version of the game at a reduced price. Then if you decide you want to play more, you have subscription options readily available for you.

Nothing has really changed in terms of being able to purchase the full version of the game. We’ve simply added additional purchasing options so that the game is accessible to a wider audience.

I wish to elaborate on this as there seems to be quite a bit of confusion surrounding this. Currently, there are no plans to allow upgrading from limited to unlimited. However, it is something we’re looking into.

As I’ve mentioned before, in the scenario where you know you’re definitely going to play the game (and for a while at that), you have the option to purchase the unlimited version. We want to make this game very accessible to everyone and we feel that having diversified payment options will help facilitate this.

Collector's Edition - 99 Dollars, Limited Availability

While the reasoning behind the pricing structure is sound and clear, the flipside is a bit harsh on regular gamers in Brazil. The unlimited version costs twice as much, almost $60, while the 6-month limited version is priced at $27. With no way of upgrading between the two after making a purchase, gamers on a budget will have quite a pricey decision to face when StarCraft 2 hits the stores.

With the nearing StarCraft 2 release and the second phase of the beta hitting any day now, updates will soon return in full gear. Get ready for the summer of StarCraft 2!

Phase one of the StarCraft 2 beta test is coming to an end for all regions at the end of this month, Monday the 31st. Here’s the official word from Xordiah, Blizzard’s RTS community manager:

We’d like to let all of our StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty beta test participants know that the first phase of the beta test will be coming to an end in all regions on Monday, May 31. The beta test will be unavailable for several weeks while we make some hardware and software configuration changes in preparation for the final phase of the beta test and the release of the game. We plan to bring the beta test back online for a couple of weeks prior to the game’s launch to complete our testing. We’ll have more details to share about when this final beta-testing phase will begin at a later date.

With the game launching on the 27th of July and phase two of the beta only commencing a couple of weeks prior to that, StarCraft 2 addicts are going to face a harsh withdrawal for more than a month. Fortunately, replays will still be available and the map editor will be fully functional, though no game of any sort will be playable since Battle.net servers will be down.

Final StarCraft 2 Beta Key Contest

If you’re aching to play some StarCraft 2 for the little time left in the beta, we invite you to participate in our third and last beta key contest! This time, we ask you to create StarCraft-related demotivational posters.

Over the next three days, we’ll be giving out 15 StarCraft 2 Beta keys to readers who create the best, most creative and most entertaining demotivational posters.

Instructions:

1) Create a demotivational poster. Poster generators are allowed.
2) Post the picture or link to it in the comments or post on our Facebook page, along with your email address.

By Saturday, May 22nd, we’ll select the top submissions and send out the keys!

We’ve received a great amount of submission for our recent StarCraft 2 Beta key contest and have been blow away by the amount of creativity and design skill some of our community members have displayed! We’re going to present most of the winning submissions; skipping quite a few, but only because there were so many – we actually ended up giving more than 30 keys to our readers.

Here are the top submissions for your viewing pleasure. We’ve refrained from mentioning the names of people, as many of them are real names – coming from Facebook rather than being aliases. All entries are exactly as submitted, in either text or picture form.

* SPAWN MORE OVERLORDS

BECAUSE I’M OUT OF CONTROL!

Kentucky Fried Zerg

GLHF Greeting TShirt

* <picture of a Baneling> I’m fat and volatile, don’t f@%# with me.

Save a baneling

* Picture is of an Infestor next to a Colossus that has a Neural Parasite. Colossus is seen firing at and chasing several nearby fleeing probes with its laser. Text: “COLOSSAL FAIL”

mothership independance tshirt

* Front: +3/3,  Back: Good Luck.

Mommaship jokes Tshirt

* “I make dead people” (Reaper picture)

I Love SC

And in the darkness bind them

Testing Immortals tshirt

Well, do you?

* Starcraft 2 Logo: Text: “What a Rush

600 years of Flight

* Picture is the Feedback icon. Text: “Never ask a High Templar to critique your writing. You won’t like his Feedback.”

1A 2A 3A - Not 1A!

* In my mind I am in your mind and in your mind I am the Overmind”

Go Zergling!

Cation, Zerg Rush in Progress!Carrier Express!

* The most trademark and intellectual property infringing design award goes to…

StarCraft 2, about time!

* Best execution of the nuked shirt design:

a nuked shirt

Cant touch sentry!

Who doesn't?

Don’t we all.

That’s it for this contest. GG, and thank you all for participating. If you haven’t gotten a StarCraft 2 beta key yet, don’t despair – we have more keys to give and more contests coming up.

… and the first StarCraft 2 meme was born. It all started with the recent StarCraft 2 beta patch, which, along with the previous patch, hit the Mothership with a massive nerf. Its movement, price, build time, food cost, abilities, shields and hit points have all been affected.

Mothership

  • The build time for this unit has increased from 120 to 160.
  • The food cost of this unit has increased from 6 to 8.
  • The number of shots fired by this unit has decreased from 8 to 6.
  • The shield of this unit has decreased from 400 to 350.
  • The health of this unit has decreased from 400 to 350.
  • The acceleration of this unit has decreased from 1.3125 to 0.3125.
  • The deceleration of this unit has increased from 0 to 1.

Then, something epic happened.

Fat Mothership Demotivational Poster

A “Yo Mommaship” Battle.net thread appeared, and it delivered. Multiple Blizzard employees have made their contributions to the thread, along with tens of other posters. To spare you from sifting through all the pages of the thread, we’ve compiled the best Yo Mommaship jokes in one Massive (Armored, Psionic) list:

  1. Yo Mommaship so fat her food cost has increased from 6 to 8.
  2. Yo Mommaship’s so trashy she doesn’t attack Roaches.
  3. Yo Mommaship’s so fat she made Jim Raynor say “That’s no moon!”
  4. Yo Mommaship so lazy that it takes her almost 3 minutes to be instantly teleported.
  5. Yo Mommaship so dumb she forgot to fire two of her guns.  (see patch notes!)
  6. Yo Mommaship such a floozy, she took 10 marines in her vortex and still had energy left.
  7. Yo Mommaship’s so fat when she sits around the base, she sits AROUND the base.
  8. Yo Mommaship so dumb when I said “we require more minerals” she took a Centrum.
  9. Yo Mommaship so fat that when she uses Mass Recall, your units are still where you left them.
  10. Yo Mommaship so fat, you must construct additional pylons. Always.
  11. Yo Mommaship so fat she burns all her energy by turning around.
  12. Yo Mommaship so fat she tried to cloak herself but it tore.
  13. Yo Mammaship so fat, it takes 3 orbital scans to see all of her.
  14. Yo Mammaship so ugly, she blinds detectors.
  15. Yo Mommaship so dumb she thinks that the Ghost Academy is where Casper lives.
  16. Yo Mommaship is so fat, the map can only hold one per player.
  17. Yo Mommahip so fat she hit wormhole transit and got stuck on both sides.
  18. Yo Mommaship so fat, Blizzard had to nerf her TWICE, just to fit her through the door.
  19. Yo Mommaship so fat, she takes up the entire control group.
  20. Yo Mommaship so fat she thought feedback was takeout. (Avarius)
  21. Yo Mommaship so fat she needs shields just to keep it tucked in.
  22. Yo Mommaship so fat her rear-end is considered a high-yield vespene geyser.
  23. Yo Mommaship so fat when she delayed the release of beta 3 weeks because they had to upload her.
  24. You Mommaship so fat, she takes food from all players in the game.
  25. Yo Mommaship so dumb, she takes financial advice from Infestors.

Financial Advice Provider

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